Gangs and moral panics: narrowing the gap between 'them and us

Roberts, Michael (2013) Gangs and moral panics: narrowing the gap between 'them and us. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Gangs and moral panics: narrowing the gap between ‘them and us’ aims to highlight the opinion that youth gangs and youth gang imagery are an established aspect of everyday cultural life. It is a general understanding of academia that the overall public fascination with gangs is a relatively recent phenomenon. This study will argue that gangs have, in fact, been a long term object of public intrigue. The desire for a definitive criminological definition of gangs within the UK has proliferated resulting in the formation of a highly divisive subdiscipline. The initial part of this study will examine the importance of this sub-discipline via utilisation, comparison and analysis of various gang definitions and literature. Whilst the fluidity and amorphous nature of gangs and gang formation provide definitional difficulties, for the public the issue is much more straightforward. Simply put the subject matter is fascinating to the public.
    One of the major vehicles for presentation of gang stories in recent times has been the moral panic. The study continues with an examination of classic moral panic theory. Their history and the conditions required for their formation, growth and subsequent end are examined with examples of issues that have and have not developed into full blown moral panics.
    The work concludes by placing gang related moral panics as part of an overall cultural fascination. To this end it is argued that the extensive history and familiarity of gang related issues allows the public to anticipate the role of gangs within media and political representation. That rather than being separated by a ‘them and us’ scenario it is recognition which is responsible for the proliferation of gang related moral panic issues. This recognition is further justified by the representation of gangs within entertainment media, subsequently cementing a stereotypical image as cultural iconography.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2014 14:29
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:34

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